The Imperfect Warlord (Chapter 9)

Part 9 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord
 
Chapter 9: Misty, Charlie&Toma, Archons, GamersMind, GoodLuck, Jade&Sizemore, Webinar&Dora, Levels, Wanda&Uncroaked
 
“Alright, Misty. You have the count finished?” I asked.
 
“Yes Warlord,” she replied, “there are two thousand, five hundred, and eighty-four, enemy units in the tunnels.”
 
...
 
WHAT???
 
"So many..." trailed off as immediately started running the numbers through my bracer. Had there always been that many? I had thought it was originally a lot closer to two thousand then three. The numbers that returned relaxed me, but only a little. There was no possibility of this battle suddenly becoming a cakewalk.
 
"Right. Well, after we win here, we'll need to focus on that second force that thinks it is going to ambush the Tool."
 
Misty looked at me oddly.
 
“What is it?” I asked
 
“It's just... How can you say that 'we'll win' with such confidence?”
 
“It's not like I don't know that I can lose,” I said. “I've already lost several times already. It's also not that I can't see what we are up against. My bracer,” I held up my arm, “can tell me the exact odds of just surviving this turn. That said, I do think we can win, and when if we do, then it won't do to have forgotten that there is a powerful secondary force that could finish the job. Understand?”
 
“Yes, Warlord.” she replied. I nodded to her and we became quiet again.
 
Dawn began. Not our turn. Charlie had showed up. “Misty?” I asked.
 
“Got it,” she said. “There are thirty-nine of them.”
 
I was honestly a little surprised that Charlie happened to have enough archons within a turn's distance. Just how many of them was he keeping nearby? It was more likely he had more than that but he decided to send the exact number needed. At least he kept them all in a group, so none managed to find Stanley's hiding spot.
 
“No point in defending,” I said. “Bracer says that's more then enough to win.” I got up and looked at the tunnel recreation Misty had set up on the situation board.
 
“TA-DA!” my eyebook alerted me.
 
CharlsNChrg: I've come up with a solution to your predicament, Toma. :)
CharlsNChrg: Come up to the tower parapet for a moment, won't you?
LordHamster: I had a solution already. It was called 'pay the biggest threat to go away'.
CharlsNChrg: I'm flattered that you think so highly of me.
LordHamster: It's simple truth. I can't afford to give you more smuckers, so if you really want to help, how about you get out of my airspace?
CharlsNChrg: Um, no?
CharlsNChrg: If you won't go, I may have to take your garrison. And you know I can.
LordHamster: How many archons do you have, just sitting around, anyway? WHY do you have fifty or so in the area in the first place?
CharlsNChrg: *innocent whistle*
LordHamster: I'm not even sure what you want here. If you take the city, Jetstone will just take it back from you on their turn.
CharlsNChrg: They can have it! But I do want that Mathamancy artifact before they can grab it.
LordHamster: The bracer?
CharlsNChrg: I'd also like the smart warlord that comes with it, but I'll pry it from his remains if I must. :)
LordHamster: You were planning to split from the coalition as soon as I told you about it, weren't you? You would have done it even if I hadn't paid!
LordHamster: You just wanted the calculations to make sure that I knew, that YOU knew, that I knew that I was beaten and, thus, make me surrender without a fight.
CharlsNChrg: See? I knew you were smart.
LordHamster: That's actually some really impressive planning...
LordHamster: But you if you attack now, you are missing out on an even greater opportunity.
CharlsNChrg: Oh? Do tell.
LordHamster: Look, you like artifacts? Hold off for one turn.
LordHamster: After we win the battle, we'll be even weaker, and we'll have the Arkenpliers with us too.
CharlsNChrg: Now see... that's not even plausible.
LordHamster: You have no idea what I'm about to do to Prince Ansom.
CharlsNChrg: Really.
CharlsNChrg: Give me an idea then. I'll spend another calculation.
CharlsNChrg: Tell me the odds of not losing the city on this coming turn.
LordHamster: Of not losing? If Stanley lives and if NO ONE INTERFERES *glares at Charlie*, we got around a two-thirds chance.
LordHamster: Yea, 67.8%
 
I felt slightly disappointed with that. I didn't remember the exact number it was in canon but I was fairly sure that I had only managed less then a 10% increase from the original events. Considering I pulled off a 50% increase in fighting Charlie's archons, it seemed a bit lackluster.
 
On the other hand, I supposed it was harder to increase your odds when you are outnumbered by so much. Plus, the archers that I loved so much were of limited utility in the caves. In the end, when you're only a fraction of the size of your opponent, as I was, there is only so much that can be done.
 
 
CharlsNChrg: ...
CharlsNChrg: The fact that I know you aren't lying actually makes it even more imperative that I get you working for me.
CharlsNChrg: However... who could resist a show like that!
CharlsNChrg: I won't leave your airspace. But I'll end turn and wait for a winner.
CharlsNChrg: I'll just tell Ansom I'm here “to assist if necessary.”
LordHamster: HA.
CharlsNChrg: Don't laugh, Champ. It might be true.
 
Oh, I knew it was, but it wasn't the reason I was laughing. His archons would be mine!
 
All I needed was the rest of the column to come up on Jetstone's turn and I could release the trap at any time. On the table, my breakfast popped, which meant it was time to chow down. I had Bogroll take the remaining sword piece to connect it together while I read the cereal box.
 
Luckamancy Charms
They're tragically malicious!
 
Hey kids! Help the Summon spell fix its goof by getting Toma everything he was missing and make him
theIMperfect warlord!
 
Glasses: See unit stats!
Bracer: Calculate odds!
Sword-3 in 1!: Leadership! Combat! Gamer's mind! (partially pre-acquired)
 
When Toma has collected all of his items the spell will finally be complete! Yay!
 
Contains a full day's supply of Luckamancy.
Eat up, dood! You're going to need it!
 
Gamer's mind? Not ruthlessness? Gamer's Mind? Does it mean that power from the manhwa, 'The Gamer'? I believe that the description was something along the lines of allowing the user to calmly and logically think things through. Allowing peaceful state of mind. It also gave immunity to psychological status effects. Hmm, did that mean that I couldn't be controlled anymore if I used it? Maybe that I couldn't have someone cast suggestion spells on me?
 
The box said it that gamer's mind was already 'partially pre-acquired', which went a long way to explaining how I had been handling myself better then I really should have been able too. Heck... Now that I thought about it, didn't I manage to fall asleep a little too easily these past few days? I also didn't keep stressing myself out anymore.
 
This was AWESOME! Way better then just being ruthless. This was exactly the sort of thing I needed to make it. I was still stuck with my weak body though. Well, I didn't think that was too bad overall. It made me, me! Not some Erf unit.
 
“It's really lovely,” Bogroll said. I looked over and saw him holding the sword. I stood up, and took the veil ring and glasses off.
 
“Misty, and Maggie, watch me closely,” I ordered her. “I have reason to believe I'll be undergoing some changes when I grab this sword, so I'd like you to try and catalog what is happening.”
 
“Understood,” she replied and, with that, I grabbed the Gamer's Mind Sword. GM Sword for short. Ooh, I liked the sound of that. Maybe GM blade?
 
I... don't THINK I felt anything. The red glow from the sword seemed to spread a bit before seeping into my skin. I wondered if this weapon had some sort of attunement process to it. I took a swing and then asked “Notice anything?”
 
"Yes, Lord,” they replied.
 
“Several things,” Misty added on.
 
“Okay, we can go over them later but, for now, we got more important stuff to deal with. Namely, breakfast for me,” I put my items on again and sat down to eat, “Maggie, tell Sizemore and Jade to get up here. Apparently, if I eat this this food I will have the luckamancy special for a turn, so I'd like to see if I can use it on others. I quickly began to eat. While I was eating, I tested stacking with Bogroll and found out that my leadership had jumped to eight! The sword had given me a plus six rise in my leadership. If I could level a few times, I would easily have more of that particular special than anyone else. I'd never heard of a person that had gotten to twelve before. No, wait. I think that Book 0 Hippymancer was level 12. Okay, level 13 then.
 
They showed up, and waited around as I ate my meal. I let them read the box. An interesting thing was that when I had my glasses off, I'd noticed that the line saying “IMperfect warlord”, had the “IM” knocked off, so I didn't have to answer any questions on that little tidbit.
 
Since they were here, Misty enhanced both of them with the X-ray spell. As usual, my glasses noticed this and told me about it. This gave me hope that I would know if I had been able to cast on them as well. I already knew a bit about how Luckamancy worked. The most common way you could giving boosts, which would increase the luck of various units. You could boost individual units by a lot, or you could boost the entire Side by a little.
 
Alternatively, you could try jinxing the enemy. It was also possible to make a single attack automatically succeed or fail. On the down side, even though you use juice to do this magic, the luck doesn't come from nothing. Instead, the rest of your units tended to become less lucky. The trade off would still be worth it, if luck was put to the right places, but it still annoyed me that the discipline could be a double edged sword. There were plenty of other spells that could do stuff with no side effects.
 
After I had eaten. I walked over to Sizemore, put my hands on his shoulders and said, “good luck.” As I said that, his stat board immediately added an effect. “Boost.” I then moved over to Jade and did the same. Then I attempted to add a luck protection. Which worked too. When I was done, she looked like this.
 
 
Jade (Plaid tribe)
Race: Man
Class: Warlord; light (medium)
Level: 6
Move: 8+2=10
Hits: 5+1=6
Combat: 5+2+4=11
Defence: 1(+1)+2+4=8
Special: lookamancy boost; luckamancy boost; luckamancy reserve 1
 
With my stronger leadership bonus, and the better armour, even her defence was quite high. It didn't give details on what the boosts did but you knew that the recipients were directly enhanced, which was useful on its own. I moved over and gave Sizemore a reserve point as well.
 
I also realized something incredibly problematical, that I hadn't thought of before. I needed to test if it was a problem, so I handed the sword to Jade for a moment... and I was right. She didn't get the leadership bonus. This sword was not just an item anyone could use, like the bracer and glasses were, it was fundamentally tied to me. So, it seems I had guessed right. Whatever this sword is, it's clear that it attunes to the one that is supposed to wield it. To control me, or to protect? I wasn't in a position to care right now. I suppose I could use the foolamancy scrolls to hide that the other casters had a warlord bonus on them when I enter the Magic Kingdom? It was just a risk I would have to swallow, I guessed.
 
“Okay Sizemore,” I said, making a snap decision, “time to head on down. Suit me up, Bogroll”
 
“You're coming, Warlord?” Sizemore asked, surprised.
 
“I'm a level 8 in terms of leadership now, Sizemore. It'll go faster with my direct bonus. Maggie, Misty, link up and keep in contact with me, save your juice when you can by sending messages through the eyebooks.” Bogroll finished with the sword sheath, not sure how he'd managed to have one that fit ready, and my helmet. Then we headed down for war.
 
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Less than an hour after dawn started, the traps had finally been released. We were currently waiting for all heck to break loose.
 
When we got on the ground level, I'd gotten myself on Spindley the spidew and asked if Sizemore wanted his own or to climb on with me. He refused, saying he preferred to keep his feet on the ground. We'd then stacked with some of his golems and headed down. Part of me was disappointed that Charlie would get a be able to see what I looked like and, in fact, an archon came down nearby to make sure he had a good image, but that just had to be secondary to winning the fight.
 
The first thing Sizemore did was setting off the liquid and gas traps. I got to see some of them happen, such as one of the golems opening up a doorway and letting that sludgy water pour down the channels. Stuff like that had been set up throughout the caverns. Many were done by the goblin scouts too, despite how heavy some of the materials were. There were large caskets of dust-type materials that, when combined, created noxious gasses. The goblins had masks fabricated to protect them from the effects though, long enough to escape the area. The trolleys that the twolls had made were extremely helpful to take the materials to the places they needed to be. Sizemore has used his command over the twolls quite well, it seemed. Several rooms were suddenly filled with poison gas, just waiting for someone to open up a doorway and breath it in. It was an impressive affair.
 
As in canon, there were two Jetstone Warlords, levels 5 and 2, kill them and we win the fight. The opening attack was moments away. I watched as a match was lit (they have MATCHES???) and dropped into the liquid.
 
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This isn't water,” Sir Webinar said. Realization soon dawned. “Climb! And cover!” he ordered as he sprinted to the wall and began to climb. Behind him, 'fire in the hold' began. Many were able to make it up the walls, but many more were too far, or too slow, and got burned alive.
 
It appears they've decided to attack,” his lieutenant warlord, Dora said to him.
 
“We need to find the leadership and destroy it,” he replied as he turned to the marbit chief. “I need the marbits to go on ahead and engage the enemy. Look for stacks with Warlords and heavies, and we'll go in that direction.
 
He waited around for awhile. The chief reported various losses as isolated marbit groups were attacked in force and wiped out. Others ended up hitting various traps and dying. Eventually, some scouts found a group of golems, surprisingly close. Some other stacks should have found them before now... No matter, Sir Webinar immediately ordered his group to close in on that location. He took the most direct route. An area that had already been checked over and was considered safe.
 
Unfortunately, it wasn't. Misty saw him come in range and Maggie alerted the gobwin that it was time to blow ship up. For some reason, the warlords had stuck extremely close together, potentially allowing both to be wiped out at the same time.
 
The boom of the explosion was deafening.
 
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MindsEye: The tactic worked, Warlord. They were lead right into one of the explosion corridors. The level 2 warlord was incapacitated and could croak at the end of turn but will likely be healed instead, if she can be sent to one of the altruistic elves.
MindsEye: The mount of the other took heavy damage.
LordHamster: Is the incapacitated warlord unconscious?
MindsEye: Yes.
 
I nodded at that. When I had been told where they would be passing. I had attempted to give a long range boost to the gobwin manning the explosion trap. I wasn't sure if it had worked because of it or not but it seemed a favourable outcome. The two warlords were in a relationship, I remembered. The fact that she hadn't croaked would mean that he would have to expend effort to keep her alive. Much better then if she had simply croaked, first thing. Still, I felt it was too risky to try again, as I had no idea how much luckamancy I had. On another note, I thought it was interesting how the linked Maggie and Misty popped up as that new user name.
 
Having a lookamancer was a massive advantage, down here. We knew exactly where the units were, so we didn't need to send out scouts to sniff out enemy locations. After the initial traps had been set off, I had sent gobwins in large groups, picking off isolated groups of marbits and unled infantry. For groups with heavies, they bypassed. Maggie/Misty had also found where the enemy warlords were staying, so I had our stack sneak through some of the Jetstone units in-between us, and then be deliberately found so that they they would move forward to attack. Taking them right past one of the the ten massive explosion corridors. I'd hoped that the surprise of the first one would catch them off guard.
 
We'd gotten one of them at least, even if the stronger one could still fight. I doubted that the next attempt would go so smoothly but I made sure to move the stack back so that they would cross another trap area. First we had to pass through a group with some heavies in them though. Ended up having to collapse the tunnel on them. We got into the new position afterwards.
 
As expected, they were far more wary the second round but, this time, they didn't cross a bomb corridor... but a pit trap. I had kept them disarmed up until the bomb, so that I'd have an additional surprise. They only activated when a heavy walked on them and, again, the remaining warlord felt like taking the lead. Therefore, even though they were properly screened this time, it wasn't fully effective.
 
The level 5 ended up falling into the trap while riding another, uninjured, sourmander. The trap killed the mount and injured him but, AGAIN, no kill. The warlord learned from that and was now making sure to carefully search the area, keep heavies in front of them and stay properly screened. In addition, they were no longer as interested in quickly going head to head, instead preferring to use their massive numbers attack us from every side.
 
“Your plan was working, Warlord,” Sizemore said. “But with these numbers maybe no plan can work. There are so many, we are being swarmed, and herded.” I couldn't help but agree with him.
 
Even with all of our knowledge of the enemies positions, and conducting our operations to wipe out the smaller groups so we could avoid being outmanoeuvred, they were still, slowly but surely, boxing us in. After about an hour of fighting, I decided it was time for reinforcements.
 
 
LordHamster: Jade. It's time. Bring down the knights.
JadeArrow: Yes, Warlord.
 
Jade normally didn't use titles around me anymore, ever since we had our talk and she'd gotten more relaxed but it wasn't really surprising to here her say it in a charged battle like this. Many of the set traps had been used up by this point, so it was time to bring down a secondary leadership group to divide the attention. It was risky, Maggie had told me that there wasn't really enough juice, or ability to split attention enough, to keep a second group safe, like ours had been. I didn't care to lose Jade but, when it came down to it, it was better to sacrifice her rather then have Maggie use all her juice and not have enough for the volcano eruption. Likewise, Sizemore needed to stay alive, which was partly the reason I was with him.
 
Partly. The other was that I felt I truly felt that this fight could go a lot better than canon but, now that I was down here, I had to wonder. I had to wonder. It wasn't enough to hold back. There were so many marbits, they could break through. My spidew was so helpful, he really did take the blows for me, while I attacked with my sword. After it got hit the first time, I decided I really wanted to boost its luckamancy, so that it didn't get taken down on me in the middle of combat. I really might die, if not for my mount. Even ordinary, unled infantry could be dangerous, especially against someone with such a frail body, like I had.
 
It all had to do with the way damage worked. It essentially followed a mathematical formula. It went like this
 
Total Attack strength, divided by two, rounded up, was how much damage a normal attack would inflict. In addition, as I mentioned before, +1 if damage bonus if in a warlord's stack +1 if chief warlord is in the hex +1 if you are in the chief warlord's personal stack. There were also a maximum damage cap, which depended on various factors.
 
That was it. Our Defence total didn't lessen the damage either, that stat mostly reflected your ability to avoid being hit in the first place. It also was extremely important in avoiding crits and being able to stop other units from bull-rushing past you. Such as when you are trying to screen for a warlord, among other things.
 
So, to take a marbit an an example... Low level marbits have a base attack value of +1, +2 for being underground, +3 for being a Jetstone unit and getting one third of Ansom's leadership bonus (An important note was that city hexes take the ENTIRE hex, the thin area around the walls of my city were all adjunct hexes). Total of +6, divided by 2, for a total of three damage with every solid hit. When they could get a hit. On top of that, they could do up to a maximum of 5 damage in a single hit, not counting warlord damage bonus. If it was being lead by a warlord then it would be a maximum of 5 damage, plus 1.
 
Many light units had this sort of limitation, the keshiks, for instance, could do up to 8 damage, on one target, per round. Even if they used both attacks on the same target, the maximum was still 8 damage. They did two damaging attacks that could do up to eight damage, per round. The short hand way of putting it was 2d8, and the marbits did 1d5.
 
Other units, like heavies and knights, had no upper limit to how much damage they could do to a single target. This just showed, again, how different units had contrasting advantages.
 
Our advantages were that Rock golems were even harder then most heavies to damage (giving a -2 reduction against slashing and piercing attacks, though bashing wasn't affected) and the leadership of Sizemore (+2) and I (+8), in a max stack (+7), was pretty phenomenal. Marbits constantly got one shotted by our stack, many times by critical attacks which were difficult to manage unless you had an attack value of +5 over the defence of the enemy unit. Even staying back as much as I could, I managed to get to level 3 after awhile.
 
Sizemore dropped the walls a number of times, killing large groups. Sometimes, I could find a unit that was still alive and coup de grâce him. I manged to kill one of those glass animal, things, that way. I wasn't too sure how Jade's force was doing but it didn't shake off the enemy leadership from closing in, not that I really wanted too. When all was said and done. They still outnumbered us by so much, that they'd win a war of attrition.
 
Three hours, since the first traps exploded, had gone by. I was exhausted by this point. If it wasn't for gamer's mind, I would have cracked. In fairness, I never would have tried coming down here if it wasn't for that though. Personally fighting was against pretty much everything I had believed in when I had been imagining myself as a warlord back on Earth.
 
Anyway, pretty much all the traps had been used up and we had lost more then half of our own troops. Mostly the gobwins but a few of the higher units as well. The enemy had lost far more, but they could AFFORD to lose them. That said, there were gaps in the tunnels that there weren't previously. Even without Sizemore digging, small groups could slip by.
 
I had been coordinating with Jade through the eyebooks, going over the latest maps that Misty/Maggie sent. The final plan took shape.
 
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The enemy had been extremely difficult. The defences of the tunnels had been vastly underestimated. No one had expected a dirtamancer laying traps everywhere. Sir Webinar had lost three separate mounts to enemy actions! Then there was the way they moved. Like ghosts, popping in and out, always attacking where his forces were weak, leading them into traps... and how was it possible for a level 8, Chief Warlord to have suddenly popped up? Lord Stanley wasn't even in the capital anymore, so it's not like a new warlord could be promoted. So where did the levels come from? If it had been known that the enemy chief was level 8, then Ansom NEVER would have just sent him and Dora down.
 
Some sort of caster trick, most likely.
 
Despite everything, Sir. Webinar had manged to keep his beloved Dora alive. Watching over her, personally, made things even more difficult then it should have been but, given the enemy's mobility, it wasn't safe to leave her anywhere but by his side. She just needed to survive the turn and then she could get to a healer. On the up side, the traps had petered out and, while his losses had been great, he was still wearing the enemy down.
 
It seemed like the enemy chief knew this as well, as the golems were moving towards him. Scouts also said that knights, lead by another commoner unit, freshly promoted, was moving to join him. Did Gobwin Knob know no shame? Taking simple infantry and promoting them beyond their station was exactly why they always lost their battles.
 
If they were trying to join forces to sandwich him, then Sir Webinar could not let that happen. He moved his best remaining units towards the chief, while leaving many of his expendable units to block the other warlord's way. The tactic was successful, as it slowed down the smaller group. His army poured out of the tunnels to attack the golems. As usual, the tunneler collapsed some of them but Sir Webiner had adjusted his tactics for this awhile ago. It would mean delays but the marbits would open them up again, soon.
 
The chief and caster, engage both at all costs!” he cried out. They had stronger leadership but Sir Webinar had made sure to keep heavies for this situation.. Meanwhile, the marbits were going around the edges. He didn't want to use them up just yet. He'd wait for the tunnels to open up again before fully committing. Just another minute or so.
 
Okay Sizemore, now!” The unusually tall chief called out as he, and his spidew, ditched the stack the tunneler was in and go to the side. What was going on?
 
The question was answered as a hole appeared and out stepped the archer knights, the keshiks. Archery units were not generally useful for the underground, Jetstone hadn't sent down a single archer, but this was a fairly wide open cavern. Sir Webinar looked back but the tunnels hadn't re-opened. It appeared the enemy had one last trap for him.
 
Fire!” the chief called out, as soon as he had stacked with the new arrivals, and a rain of arrows poured out. Croaking a path that lead straight to Sir Webinar.
 
The heavies were still occupied with the golems, and, although they were now doing fearsome damage against the stone creations, they wouldn't be able to win their engagements in time.
 
Again!” Another series of shots, this time many hit the sourmander he rode. For the fourth time (technically third, the first had only been badly damaged, which Sir Webinar knew was very unsafe, and had exchanged it) the beast he was riding crocked beneath him. He stumbled off it only to see the gleaming blade of the chief warlord, as it stabbed through his chest.
 
Darkness immediately followed.
 
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“GOT YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH!” I cried out in exultation. “Wait. I mean “witch”. I mean... I can swear again? No, never mind that,” I said to myself. “Because leadership is broken!”
 
I called out, “Finish the group off everyone!”
 
They did so, then Sizemore blasted the tunnel open and started moving in. I noticed that killing the warlord had brought me to level 4. Which meant I had a leadership of ten, just like Ansom.
 
The plan had been simple, if impossible to do without the casters and setup I possessed. I'd had Misty/Maggie cast another vision spell on the highest level keshik and had them come down, avoiding all engagements. There has been a tunnel on the other side of the wall that we had them wait at while we lured the warlord to the location. Then Sizemore would block the enemy inside, open up the wall, and by joining them with my leadership, we mowed down enough of the opposition to get a clean strike on the enemy. It might have been aided by luckamancy, I wasn't sure.
 
In any case, the fight quickly turned into a route. We found the incapacitated warlord and I had her captured, along with the injured sourmander she was riding. I ordered the keshiks to take them, and the warlord corpse, up to the surface. I decided to come along with them, figuring that Sizemore and Jade could handle things. I then booked Wanda and told her to put a bit of effort into working on uncroaking the new warlord before it was time to start with all the other croaked units down here.
 
If it wasn't for the lookamancer, the process of mopping up would have taken several more hours, putting us uncomfortably close to the end of turn line, but, as it was, everything was finished with over two hours to spare. Enough time for me to have the bodies of the heavies dragged over to the left side of the city, the side I figured would not turn into lava later on.
 
When we'd gotten all of the enemy units, I ordered Misty/Maggie to break the link. I was told it was done with no harmful side effects, which was a relief. Misty was pretty drained from the efforts though. I was too, I ached and had a few cuts and bruises. Plus, I'd never ridden before so my legs were sore from doing so for several hours. It was an astonishingly low amount of damage, all things considered. I hadn't taken a single, solid, hit. That said, I decided that I really needed to not make a habit of leading from the front.
 
“Come on Misty, I need you to do something,” I said as I walked down the stairs. Misty followed.
 
“What is is Warlord?” she asked.
 
“Your level is too low,” I explained. “Still being level 1 is no good. I got a few prisoners. I want you to croak them.”
 
“Oh,” she said, and was silent after that.
 
“Are you also a pacifist? Like Sizemore?” As much as I wanted her to level, I didn't want to violate her morals, if I didn't need too.
 
“I... I guess I hadn't given it much thought Warlord,” she replied. “ I was popped right after Lord Stanley became Overlord. He had wanted some new commanders to run the army under him and got me instead. I started scanning the hexes around the city for a few turns when he came up with the idea that he could link all the casters together. He wanted to make sure things were safe enough around the capital so he could continue to go out and tame dwagons.”
 
“I see,” I said. You've been in that link for a long time, haven't you?”
 
“Almost my whole life.”
 
It was sad, but the whole thing was sad. So many people using each other. I suppose it figured that the reason Stanley had come up with the idea was so he could spend more time taming dwagons. Wanda really screwed things up for this kingdom.
 
“Well, that's fair,” I replied. “You suddenly have a wealth of options and you don't know what to do with them. I don't mean to press you, but you'd be a lot better off as a higher level, so lets give this a try.”
 
“Yes Lord,” she said.
 
We got down to ground level and I found where the Jetstone units were. Wanda was busy with the level 5, as the level 2 just lay there. I called a stabber over and had him offer the blade to Misty. She gingerly took hold of it.
 
“Right here Misty,” I said. “You just have to sever the woman's neck.”
 
She stared at the woman for several minutes as I saw conflicting emotions come over her face. I didn't rush her though.
 
In the end, she took a deep breath, raised the sword and lopped the warlord's head off. I wasn't sure if I was grateful for the lack of blood spurting from the wound, or horrified by how much more palatable that lack made the act of cold-blooded murder, which this obviously was. Immediately, Misty went up a level.
 
“Good,” I said. “How do you feel about the act? Do you need another minute?”
 
“I feel... stronger,” she said.
 
“That is the idea behind leveling.” I replied in an even tone. “You feel okay doing the same to the mount?”
 
“A beast can't be worse then a person,” she noted.
 
“The warlord was unconscious,” I pointed out. “The beast, very much aware of what's going on. However, if you feel okay with it then, by all means, strike it down.”
 
She gripped the sword again, and with movements that might surprise (since she had never held a blade before, nor had a special in fighting with one), she managed a perfect stab, and the sourmander died as well. Misty had just become a level 3 caster.
 
“Congratulations,” I said. “Did that help replenish your juice at all?”
 
“I think I got around a 10% increase with each level. Not great but an improvement. My total juice pool also increased, but by a much smaller amount.” I nodded to her words.
 
“I would love to have captured a few more prisoners but I can't spare the attention towards it,” I said as I took the blade back and returned it to the stabber. I then told him to take the warlord to the place that held all the other croaked units. I didn't need Wanda to cast anything because it wouldn't disappear until noon tomorrow.
 
“You are not going to have me uncroak that warlord as well?” Wanda asked.
 
“No,” I replied. “You'll understand why I am saving the corpses next turn. As soon as the mopping up is done. Get down there, uncroak them all, and bring them to the outer walls.”
 
“You too Misty,” I continued. “Why don't you take a break for a bit? We got some time before end of turn. You did real good today. Helped us a lot.”
 
“Thank you Lord, I think I will rest,” she moved towards some steps and sat down upon them.
 
“Okay Wanda. You're up.” I said. “There's well over two thousand troops down there. You can really uncroak them all?”
 
“Croakamancy comes from the mind, Lord,” she said. “ The more time and attention I spent uncroaking the unit, the closer it will be to to it's original strength and abilities when it was alive and the more turns it lasts before degrading into dust. I am more then capable of uncroaking every unit in this city zone. But they will be the weakest kind and only last a few turns.”
 
“That's fine,” I said. “The important thing is that they'll be ours, and with you leading them, they'll carry your bonus. This will stop the coalition from attacking this turn. If they wait, that will be enough. I got a plan for next turn,” there was no plan. I just said that as a bluff for certain ears.
 
“Oh?”
 
“Not while Charlie is in the airspace Wanda,” specifically, it was a bluff for Charlie's ears.
 
I called my spidew and got on its back as it climbed up the tower for me and dropped me off at the top. I used to be afraid of heights. Gamer's mind was pretty awesome. It was also probably the reason I could swear again. My guess was that Fate was going to take a looser grip on me then it had on Parson, given how it had failed the first time around. There was no real reason to stop swearing, after all.
 
Well, that worked for me. If Fate is a good employer, then I'll do that I can to speed it's plans along.
 
I booked Jade as I came to the situation room to have her come discuss strategy. I had well over an hour left before end of turn. More than enough time to come up with a little something to take care of Ansom, before he filled in that stupid contract with Charlie.
 
She came up and we talked. Wanda uncroaked all the troops below and moved them to the outer walls. Jade also headed out among the zombies. Fellows.
 
All I needed was for the column to finish pulling up to the city hex and then I'd be set.
 
I looked out towards the walls. 'Come-on Ansom,' I thought as I enhanced my vision to show the column of fellows marching towards the outer walls. 'attack these guys so I can grab the pliers.'
 
 
NOON. END GOBWIN KNOB TURN. COALITION TO BEGIN TBfGK.
 
Mechanics Corner:
 
  • Gamer's Mind: This is my one big conceit for the story. I'm really not smart enough without a boost, so I upgraded ruthlessness to this. It has no basis whatsoever in canon.
  • Luck: Parson appeared to give Bogroll some luck, so I figured that the cereal made him a caster for the turn, but that Parson didn't know how to use it. Since I've read several passages on how luck works. I figure I could cast effectively. Either that or it was some sort of natural carnymancy. I decided that this would make me a caster, so it did?
  • Leadership: I'm going to assume that the GM blade gives a straight bonus to add to base leadership.
  • Attune: I believe the sword attuned to Parson in a similar manner that the arkentools did. I believe that this was supposed to be fate's doorway to help it control Parson into doing it's bidding. So the bonus goes to that person, no one else can use it.
  • User Names: It's signamancy, so I figure being in a link would cause the user name to change.
  • Damage: The single, most annoying canon reference was in book 0. It said that the plants did 1d6 damage with their shots, which was to laugh at. Considering that Jack only had 5 hit points, I didn't think that 1d6 sounded harmless. So I worked all this out to justify why Jillian would think that way. That said, I also like the idea of maximum damages being applicable. It creates further specialties with unit types. I'm pretty happy with this overall.
  • Juice: I think you would regain some of your juice from leveling but not a lot. It's a pure guess on my part as I am not aware of a caster mentioning this sort of thing while leveling
 Word Count: 6.7k
Part 9 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord

Comments

  • Beeskee

    Awesome can't wait for the next one. :D

     

    I think the text on the box should say "You're REALLY going to need it!" :D I like the little differences, and how it kind of ripples back into place in some ways, but there are some major differences. The high level archers, for one.

  • WurmD

    Dude, you rock!

    Just a few typos:

    Yes, Lord,” they replied.
    missed a " there
     

    Jade normally didn't use titles around me anymore, ever since we had our talk and she'd gotten more relaxed but it wasn't really surprising to here her say it in a charged battle like this.

    hear her say
  • tomaO2

    Spelling corrected.